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Best Low Light Focusing Olympus MU43 Camera

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by broncophil, Sep 18, 2014.

  1. broncophil

    broncophil Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2010
    my em5 has never really impressed me with its lowlight focusing, i would often miss shots when the light is somewhat dim (not extremely dark)

    does the em1 focust better?

    doesnt it have a different focusing type altogether?

    i'm looking for some lenses, so was thinking of taking advantage of the rebates.

  2. Promit

    Promit Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 6, 2011
    Baltimore, MD
    Promit Roy
    The EM1 has a hybrid focusing system with PDAF points, but historically PDAF requires more light than the contrast detect on the other cameras. I've heard they fall back to pure contrast in low light situations. But no hands on experience myself.
  3. LowTEC

    LowTEC Mu-43 Regular

    Interesting topic. The limited result that I have experienced with has yet to be mentioned anywhere on the web. I too had some trouble focusing in the fairly dark living room with my Oly 45, 75, with my EM5, although they focus lightening quick and accurate during bright day time. So I decided to test with my other lenses at home one night, to my surprise, both my 12-35 (which has a "smaller aperture and theoretically receive less light to focus" and 25 1.4 focus much faster and accurate in the dark on EM5. Mind you in day time, both panny's focus about the same as night but noticeably slower and "coarser" -for a better word of ever-so-slight internal vibration- than the lightening quick and smooth 45 1.8.

    I have also tested the newer oly 25 1.8, same result as 45 1.8, nice and silky smooth, super quick during the day, but occasionally "loss" in semi dark area. My uneducated guess is, Oly lens has much better motor to lens design and construction, thus the silky smooth zero vibration movement inside and therefore faster to focus in ideal condition. But at night, again, my guess, is that the panny lens has better focusing algorithm and able to identify object surface contrast better.

    Furthermore, I also did a home made shootout with a few more cameras, with various lenses, another surprise is that my EM5/GX7 with 1235 was the only system that were able to lock a focus in a fairly dark ceiling corner, other systems were RX1R, Nikon DF with Tamron 2470 2.8 and 50mm 1.8 (thought FF with PDAF and a bright lens should do much better), Sony RX100iii, Fuji XT1 (completely hopeless in normal indoor lighting, let alone dark area) with 23 1.4 and the new and glorious 56 1.2.

    Now I have a GH4 as well and the "vibration" of 12-35 is completely gone with this camera, as well as 35-100, both focus smooth lightening quick with DFD technology , like 45 1.8 on EM5. 7-14 and 100-300 on the other hand, focus slower, more so with 100-300, on either EM5 or GH4, but both lenses DO lock focus in semi dark area, just take longer to achieve.

    I don't own a EM1 unfortunately, but it does seem focus faster than my EM5 with same lenses last time my friend and I tested on some lenses like 17 1.8, 45 1.8 and 75 1.8 in normal indoor lighting. Hope this information helps you
  4. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    every autofocus camera ever made struggles to focus on dim low contrast light

    add to that you are shooting wide open with probably low shutter speeds and high ISO

    I have not noticed a significant difference between em5 and em1

    successful images are more a combination of operator skill and luck and a realistic set of expectations rather than the camera

    Just my view

    • Like Like x 1
  5. LowTEC

    LowTEC Mu-43 Regular

    I mostly agree with your points, although we also have to factor some cameras/lenses do able to focus in some uncontrollable difficult lighting condition, while some others simply can't do the job at all.
  6. kevinparis

    kevinparis Cantankerous Scotsman Subscribing Member

    Feb 12, 2010
    Gent, Belgium
    All cameras have got better and will continue to do so.. but I think the major source of disillusion is an unrealistic expectation of what actually is possible in low light situations. An understanding that a dimly lit restaurant will never give you the same degree of sharpness that you get on a sunny day is an important concept to grasp.

    Auto focus is a wonderful thing... but its not magic... it has limits... some systems may be better... but none are error free at the edges their capabilities

  7. broncophil

    broncophil Mu-43 Veteran

    May 23, 2010
    Thanks for the detailed explanation.. I use primarily oly primes too
  8. gobeatty

    gobeatty Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 15, 2014
    Is this where the focus assist light (maybe not on all cameras? Some prefer not to use it?) would come in handy? I was at dinner the other night with my family and my new EM10 with EZ Kit lens refused to focus. My Canon 6D would have focused no sweat but it was dark. I had the assist light off, but I have it on now. I don't know if a 1.8 lens would do better.
  9. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    Assist light works wonders. I don't think many people use it, but I rarely have problems. When I had the E3/E1 w/12-60 and FL50 the assist light on that could focus in pitch black.
  10. Dramaturg

    Dramaturg Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 7, 2013
    Just a side note - I am shooting PL25 for a three months and, as I remember, there hasn't been any misfocus picture. It simply always locks the focus right, be it face detect or a focus box. On the other side Oly 45 does miss the focus time to time. Perhaps that'a what you are registering as well. It does seem to me Panasonic lens has a something more accurate autofocus algorithm.

    Sent from my iPhone using Mu-43 mobile app
  11. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    I'd agree. It might have to do with shallower DOF too of the 45. It's amazing what you can take handheld with the PL25 in really low light, when you wouldn't even attempt it with a kit lens.
  12. walter_j

    walter_j Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Sep 10, 2013
    Hagwilget, B.C., Canada
    try manual focus lens and magnification. Always works
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